Your Human Right to Work

Human Right to Work

Did you know that access to work is one of your basic human rights in Australia? The Australian Government is a party to seven international human rights treaties, and one of them covers your right to work.

This means that everyone in Australia has the opportunity earn a living through any kind of work they freely choose. They are also not allowed to be deprived of work unfairly or discriminated against.

So, as long as you are of legal working age (which can vary from state to state), there is nothing stopping you from going out and looking for work. Even if you are still a student at high school or university, you are allowed to work.

However, keep in mind that this doesn’t mean you are guaranteed to be employed. These things are still affected by factors such as job availability and whether or not you are qualified. But there’s nothing out there to stop you from applying for and accepting any job you want.


Favourable Working Conditions

You also have a right to just and favourable conditions at work, including:

  • fair wages, with equal pay for equal work
  • safe and healthy working conditions
  • equal opportunity for promotions
  • rest, leisure time, holidays, and reasonable working hours

It’s important to keep these things in mind when you start working for the first time. And if you feel like something is wrong, you don’t have to stay quiet because you are young or inexperienced – there are ways you can take action if you believe you are being treated unfairly at work.



These human rights treaties also cover issues around discrimination in the workforce. You are entitled to help or compensation if you are refused a job, fired, made to work in unfair conditions, or are harassed because of your:

  • sex
  • disability
  • race
  • age (young or old)
  • sexual preference
  • religion
  • criminal record
  • trade union activity
  • political opinion

It is against the law for an employer to discriminate against you for any of the above reasons. If you find that you have been refused a job or fired for these reasons, remember that is absolutely not ok.

Note that while workplace bullying is different from discrimination, there are still laws out there to protect you from bullying as well. Take a look at our blog on how to protect yourself from workplace bullying to find out more.


Where Can I Get Help?

The Australian Government is responsible for making sure your rights are met and respected at work. They have passed laws and rules that enforce your rights at work, and have set up several different bodies to assist you with different issues.

The Fair Work Ombudsman is a government body that can help you with advice on things like pay, leave, work hours, entitlements, and plenty of other work and employment-related issues.

Safe Work Australia is another government body that creates policy and provides advice on issues such as workplace safety and accident and injury compensation. Each State and Territory also has their own workplace health and safety regulator, who can do things like provide licences and registrations, and investigate workplace accidents.

The Australian Human Rights Commission is an independent body that can investigate complaints and provide advice on discrimination and harassment in the workplace.


Find Out More

If you want to know about your human right to work, find out more with some of our blogs:

You can also find more information and advice here:

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